Letter to the Editor – Sun-Gazette

Letter to the Editor –

I recently read two letters to the editor from area residents who stated that Pennsylvanians do not benefit from the Pennsylvania lottery and gaming revenues that are generated each year.  I wanted to take this opportunity to set the record straight and provide more information about how that money is allocated.

Last year, more than $1.16 billion in lottery revenues went to support programs benefitting older Pennsylvanians.  Programs such as property tax and rent rebates, free and reduced fare transportation services, low-cost prescription drug programs PACE and PACENET, care services and local services provided by the Area Agencies on Aging, which would not exist without lottery funding.

In my Senatorial District of Bradford, Lycoming, Sullivan, Susquehanna and Union Counties, a total of $27,116,356 was received last year by these five counties in support of the programs mentioned.  Clearly, older Pennsylvanians have and are benefitting from lottery revenues.  Perhaps a disgruntled writer thinks he is receiving no benefits, but that is certainly no reason to trash a program which benefits thousands.

State gaming revenues generated mainly from casino operations have provided substantial sums for property tax reduction, as well funding for compulsive & problem gambling treatment; drug and alcohol addiction treatment services; the local law enforcement grant program and $25 million in grants to volunteer fire companies and volunteer services. 

Last year, Bradford County received $3.304 million in gaming revenues for property tax reductions; Lycoming County received $6.234 million; Sullivan County received $207,854; Susquehanna County received $3.467 million and Union County received $1.088 million.

All public school districts in the state receive funds from gaming revenues for tax reduction.  While not an all-encompassing list, the following are gaming revenues distributed to some school districts in Senate District 23:

  • Bradford County: Athens Area SD, $928,016; Towanda SD, $751,523; Wyalusing Area SD, $298,848; 
  • Lycoming County: East Lycoming SD, $533,140; Jersey Shore SD, $1,146,711; Williamsport Area SD, $2,438,496; Loyalsock SD, $393,634; 
  • Sullivan County: Sullivan County SD, $207,854; 
  • Susquehanna County: Elk Lake SD, $340,250; Montrose Area SD, $1,098,640; 
  • Union County: Lewisburg Area SD, $518,374; Mifflinburg Area SD, $570,344. 

Gross revenue from regulated gambling in Pennsylvania climbed to a new record high above $3.3 billion in the just-completed fiscal year.  As required by law, the Commonwealth’s Budget Secretary certified on April 15, 2019, that $620,500,000 in state-funded local tax relief will be available in 2019-20. When combined with the senior citizen Property Tax/Rent Rebate program, total state-funded property tax relief will be $766.8 million next year.

When considering lottery funds and gaming revenues, approximately $1.7 billion was distributed last year toward programs for older Pennsylvanians and for school property tax relief.    To me, that is very serious money.   Unfortunately, both writers have no knowledge of the facts.   Just because they choose to be misinformed, however, does not give them a license to state the legislators “…are guilty of ‘safely’ lining their pockets with that revenue…”

Without these significant revenues, Pennsylvanians would be paying more in taxes and would not have access to services that so many of our residents rely on to stay in their homes, obtain prescriptions, and receive care they need.

Senator Gene Yaw (R-23)